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Lebanon-Israel border fire: Scandal or victory for Tel Aviv?

Photo: Fear of Hezbollah Pushes Israeli Artillery to Bombard Israeli Military Site
Middle East Observer | July 31, 2020

Description:

Senior Lebanese political analyst Anees Naqqash provides his analysis of the recent flareup on the Lebanese-Israeli border, an incident which is becoming the subject of many questions, theories and debates.

In this interview on Al-Manar TV, Naqqash says something ‘very strange and major’ occurred in this incident, and perhaps the ambiguity will be removed in the future. However, the senior analyst, who is closely-tied to Hezbollah, affirmed that the events at the border were a ‘major scandal for the entire state of Israel’.

Here’s the necessary context:

For days Israeli forces had been on high alert on the Lebanese border after Tel Aviv understood that a Hezbollah reprisal attack was imminent after the Lebanese group announced that one of its cadres (namely Ali Kamil Mohsen) had been killed by an Israeli airstrike near Damascus International Airport.

On the 27th of July, 2020, a military incident occurred at the border between Lebanon and Israel. Much debate ensued regarding what actually occurred. As the apparent cross-border fire unfolded on that Monday afternoon at the Shebaa Farms border region, Israeli media reported the developing situation minute by minute, albeit with contradictory accounts. Meanwhile, Hezbollah remained silent, while Lebanese media outlets like Al Mayadeen TV largely relayed Israeli media’s breaking news reports.

The final account that Israeli media and officials generally settled on hours later was this: the Israeli army had thwarted a Hezbollah infiltration attempt into Israeli-controlled territory, and that the army remains alert for any future attempts to breach the border.

Thereafter, when the dust had settled, Hezbollah issued a statement denying Israeli media reports that a Hezbollah infiltration attempt was foiled, and asserted that all the fire that was opened was carried out unilaterally by the Israelis. Hezbollah unequivocally asserted that there were no ‘clashes’, nor exchange of cross-border fire, nor ‘martyrs’ that fell from its side, but rather ‘terrified and anxious’ Israeli forces ‘firing at each other’.

The Hezbollah statement also assured that the reprisal for Israel’s killing of Ali Kamil Mohsen, one of its cadres in Syria, is undoubtedly coming.

Source: Al-Manar TV

Date: July 27,2020

Transcript:

Host:

Mr. Anees, let us return to the point raised by Mr. Hijazi (Al-Manar journalist) regarding the (various) scenarios. What are the potential scenarios that led the enemy entity (Israel) to this situation today? Is it truly the case that the huge (Israeli) confusion and tension (in anticipation of the promised Hezbollah reprisal), this idea (invoked initially by Nasrallah, that the Israelis ought to wait for the reprisal by) “standing on a leg and a half” , also after Hezbollah’s (media) statement, which we’re going to mention after a while, and I don’t know how much they’ll last standing on a leg and a half moving forward… what are the scenarios that led to this scene? Or is it truly a trick (by Israeli officials) aimed at getting rid of the burden of (Hezbollah’s promised) reprisal through any way possible, by say fabricating a story or scenario to reach this end?


Naqqash:

This scenario, in which (the Israelis purposefully) commit an attack against their own selves in order to prevent Hezbollah from responding by drawing a statement from Hezbollah (in which the Lebanese group can claim) that “We have retaliated and carried out our reprisal”, this (possibility) is abit unlikely, unless of course (the Israelis) are that stupid, But whoever knows Hezbollah well, knows that they won’t engage in such a game.

There’s something that I don’t know how we will reach one day, but something (in what occurred today) looks like the Ansariya operation (of 1997, which occurred at the Lebanese coastal town of Ansariya). When the Ansariya operation took place, Robert Fisk, the famous correspondent from The Independent, came to me and said, “Anees, my estimation of this operation is that it is impossible for it to have occurred in the manner in which it did.” In what sense (did Fisk mean)? (He meant that) Hezbollah (during the Ansariya operation) was awaiting the Israeli special forces in order to trap them, and these (Israeli special) forces do not move into action except by the command of the (Israeli) Prime Minister and (Israeli army’s) Chief of Staff, so this means complete secrecy, a large part of the (Israeli army) does not know about the movements (of these special forces).

Fisk continued, “So, I believe that Hezbollah was awaiting (the arrival of these forces at Ansariya), and there’s no way (this ambush could have occurred) except by (Hezbollah) having penetrated the Israeli (Chief of) Staff Command.” (Fisk) wasn’t joking at all. He said “my estimation”, and you know Fisk’s (journalistic) experience, he has extensive experience in the (Middle East) region for over 30 years. I replied to Fisk’s claim and told him, “No, I don’t think it required (Hezbollah) to penetrate the (Israeli Chief of) Staff Command. There’s something major that happened, maybe one day it will be clarified.”

What was the major thing (that was revealed later)? That an (Israeli) spy drone had been capturing images of an area (in the Lebanese town of) Ansariya, (Hezbollah) operatives (had intercepted this drone) and were collecting these images, which allowed them in turn to uncover the enemy’s intended target (i.e. Hezbollah anticipated where the Israeli special forces were intending to land and strike). They uncovered the enemy’s intended target via the enemy’s eye (in the sky). Through the enemy’s eye they prepared for them an ambush.

I believe the day will come when the major fact (behind today’s events) is revealed, because what happened today was very strange. It wasn’t merely a confused Israeli soldier who was firing a M16 or PKM, or even a single tank firing at an invisible target. Rather, it consisted of extremely heavy shelling from several (Israeli) sources of fire, all of which were targeting an (Israeli) military base, and this lasted for several minutes. The information was delivered to the (Israeli) prime minister and he (immediately) issued threats and assessed the (magnitude of the) situation. Something major occurred at this (military) site. I think that the enemy today is extremely confused to the maximum level possible. What happened to its forces? Who gave the order to open fire? What (is the nature of the) penetration that took place? What camouflage (tactics) were used?

During war, armies carry out spy missions, deception operations, I give him fake targets (to shoot at), and perhaps behind these fake targets his own forces could be stationed. All this occurs. What happened today? No one can say exactly what happened, but one thing could be said, “It is a scandal for the Zionist enemy and its army and its (entire) state as a (political) entity, because it is not just the (Israeli) Northern (Army) Command which is involved in this scandal, as I said in the beginning, from the Prime Minister, to the ‘Minister of War’, to the (local commanders) on the ground, all are embroiled in this scandal.

Something major has happened today, which is forcing (the Israelis) to reconsider their calculations. Great powers today are looking at this (Israeli) entity today and saying: something major has happened. This is an entity that cannot be relied upon (to achieve any military advances). This reminds us of reports written by great powers after 2006 which said that this army cannot win any (future) war, because its performance in 2006 was one of the worst performances, (a war waged against) only two thousand fighters from Hezbollah. Today the situation is (even) totally different in terms of (Hezbollah’s) numbers, equipment and weapons, but this is another issue. Yet the confusion that took place today, the scenario that caused a total collapse of the (Israeli) media and intelligence (apparatus), of the Chief of Staff, of the Prime Minister, to the (actual) Israeli base on the ground that bombarded the other military base.

Recently I received information that large plumes of smoke were rising from some (Israeli) bases. My estimates were that the enemy was evacuating from these bases and did not want (Hezbollah) to know that it had evacuated. This base (that was bombarded by Israel) was part of the scenario. Did the enemy evacuate this base in order to create this scenario? This would indicate the level of disgrace of the Zionist enemy, as it imagines Hezbollah would feel satisfied with this scenario and claim that it carried out this operation. It’s as if (the Israelis) are convincing themselves that (Hezbollah) might do such a thing. And this is impossible (Hezbollah would never do it) . As you heard today (the Israelis) saying: “What annoys us more is that Hezbollah did has not issued a statement yet.” And when the situation became clear, Hezbollah issued that very clear statement, and by doing so, revealed the weakness of the enemy, as it revealed Hezbollah had no hands in the clashes, and that the Israelis were clashing with themselves. Today there is a great defeat for the enemy at all levels, and this must be further closely studied.

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July 31, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | 2 Comments

Russia vows to respond ‘reciprocally’ to EU sanctions over ‘politically motivated’ & ‘far fetched’ hacking allegations

RT | July 31, 2020

Russian officials have dismissed as “baseless” restrictions imposed by the European Union on individual Russians and an intelligence unit accused of cybercrimes. Moscow has hinted at a mirrored response to Brussels’ sanctions.

“Obviously, the EU’s hostile action will not be left unanswered. As we know, everything in diplomacy is reciprocal,” Russia’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

On Thursday, the EU blacklisted four Russian individuals and the special technologies unit of Russia’s military intelligence agency, known as the GRU, which Brussels accuses of committing cyberattacks. A number of nationals and entities from China and North Korea were hit by sanctions as well.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry rejected the allegations as “baseless” and illegal under international law. Moscow said that the sanctions were enacted “under a far-fetched pretense,” and were strictly politically-motivated.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , | 1 Comment

US’ global media agency launches probe into ‘election interference’ after VOA runs Biden campaign ad targeting Muslims

RT | July 31, 2020

The head of the US agency for Global Media has announced an investigation into state-funded Voice of America (VOA) for possible election meddling, after its service in Urdu promoted a clip of Joe Biden courting Muslim votes.

The probe, announced by the newly-appointed agency CEO Michael Pack on Thursday, aims to determine whether federal employees of the broadcaster, funded exclusively through taxpayer money, “transgressed the VOA Charter, VOA’s Best Practices Guide, VOA’s Journalistic Code,” and whether they committed US election interference and a federal offence by airing a video “that can only be described as an apparent election advertisement for [the] presumptive Democratic presidential nominee.”

The clip, which was branded with a VOA logo, shows Biden addressing the Million Muslim Votes Summit earlier this month and citing a hadith (saying of Islam’s Prohet Mohammed), while making a series of election pledges such as the ending of travel restrictions to countries with substantial Muslim populations, labeled by US President Donald Trump’s detractors as a “Muslim ban.”

“Your voice is your vote. Muslim American voices matter. I’ll be a president who seeks out and incorporates the ideas and concerns of Muslim Americans on everyday issues that matter most to our communities,” Biden says in the clip.

The ad, which also features the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, sees Biden’s promise of “having Muslim American voices as part of my administration.”

The video urges American Muslims to go out and vote, calling the effort “the largest Muslim voter mobliziation in America.”
Also on rt.com Envoy demands VOA ramp up anti-Iran efforts to ‘support’ Iranians… because what they really need is more US-funded propaganda

The clip was shared on the VOA’s Urdu website as well as across its social media, before it was scrapped.

In his statement, Pack said that the agency is seeking to find those behind “this significant content and editorial breakdown.”

“USAGM staff members who attempt to influence American elections will be held accountable.”

Ever since Pack was confirmed by the Senate in early June to lead the agency, mainstream media and Democrats have been sounding alarms over the VOA, initially set up in 1942 as a propaganda arm of the US government, potentially becoming an outlet for the wrong kind of propaganda – that is, a mouthpiece for the Trump campaign. However, that does not seem to be the case, at least, for now.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 1 Comment

Taliban Group Says Completed Release of 1,000 Afghan Prisoners Under Agreement With US

Sputnik – 31.07.2020

KABUL – The Taliban movement has completed the release of 1,000 Afghan prisoners as per the Doha deal agreed with Washington, Suhail Shaheen, a spokesman for the Taliban’s political office in Qatar, said on Friday.

“According to the Doha Agreement, in which the Islamic Emirate promised to release 1000 prisoners in exchange for 5,000 prisoners, this number was completed by us today,” Shaheen said.

Earlier in the day, the Taliban completed the process by releasing 82 prisoners in the Afghan provinces of Herat, Farah, Ghor, Nimroz, Zabul and Balkh, the spokesman added.

The Afghan government and the Taliban committed to releasing each other’s prisoners — 5,000 and 1,000, respectively — as part of a peace deal negotiated by the group and the United States in the Qatari capital of Doha on 29 February, with the outlook to launch intra-Afghan talks. Kabul has so far freed only 4,400 detainees, according to the Taliban.

Earlier this week, Shaheen said that the Taliban would release the remaining Afghan prisoners before the Muslim sacrifice festival of Eid al-Adha, which starts on Friday, as a goodwill gesture. The movement expects the peace talks with the Afghan government to start in August following the release of the prisoners.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Unsealed docs: Clinton was on ‘pedophile island’ w/ ‘young girls’ & cite Epstein saying former president ‘owed him favor’

RT | July 31, 2020

Newly unsealed files tied to the Jeffrey Epstein sex-trafficking case imply that former US President Bill Clinton visited the investor’s private island along with “young girls,” and that the FBI knew well about the minors’ abuse.

Comprising hundreds of pages of documents, the trove was released on Thursday night following a judge’s order last week to have it unsealed, over the objections of Ghislaine Maxwell, a former girlfriend to Epstein who has recently been charged as an accomplice in his alleged sex-trafficking operation.

The records stem from a 2015 defamation suit filed by Epstein accuser Virginia Giuffre, which was placed under lock and key after the case was settled in 2017, but was recently unsealed, as a result of a lawsuit brought last year by conservative blogger Mike Cernovich and the Miami Herald newspaper.

Among other revelations, the documents indicate that former US president Bill Clinton consorted with “young girls” during at least one visit to Epstein’s private resort in the Virgin Islands, where the billionaire was said to host regular “sex orgies.”

“When you were present with Jeffery Epstein and Bill Clinton on the island, who else was there?” one witness – presumably Giuffre – was asked during an interview, to which she replied that Epstein, Maxwell, an unidentified woman named “Emmy” and “2 young girls” had been on the island with the former POTUS. The witness did not elaborate on Clinton’s interactions with the girls, however.

The same witness also told her attorney in 2011 that she had overheard Epstein saying that Clinton owed him “favors,” but noted she couldn’t tell whether he was joking.

“He would laugh it off. You know, I remember asking Jeffrey ‘What’s Bill Clinton doing here?’… and he laughed it off and said ‘well he owes me a favor,’” she said. “He never told me what favors they were. I never knew. I didn’t know if he was serious.”

“He told me a long time ago that everyone owes him favors. They’re all in each other’s pockets.”

One of America’s top law enforcement agencies was also apparently aware that underage girls were still being abused at Epstein’s properties as far back as 2011 – years after he was sentenced for similar crimes in his first criminal case. During her defamation suit, Giuffre said she had provided the FBI a now widely circulated photo of herself and the UK’s Prince Andrew – where he is pictured smiling with an arm around her bare waist.

In 2014, moreover, Giuffre contacted the FBI to request evidence they had previously seized from Epstein’s residences to aid her civil case, suggesting the bureau had for long been informed of her allegations regarding Epstein and his continued involvement with minor girls.

President Donald Trump also made an appearance in the unsealed papers. However, an associate of Epstein, Juan Alessi, said in an interview that Trump “never” stayed overnight while visiting Epstein’s Palm Beach estate, and that he did not receive any “massages” there, as “he’s got his own spa.” An alleged victim also maintained that while Trump and Epstein were “good friends,” Trump made no attempts to “flirt” with her.

Despite repeatedly insisting he had no ties to Epstein’s sex-trafficking ring, legal scholar and former Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz is directly accused in the documents of having “sexual relations” with an underage girl. He is also said to have witnessed “the sexual abuse of many other minors by Epstein and several of Epstein’s co-conspirators,” and would later help to negotiate an undisclosed immunity deal for himself during Epstein’s first criminal case.

More than 1,000 pages of documents from Giuffre’s civil defamation case had previously been released in August 2019, indicating that a long list of wealthy and powerful figures regularly spent time with Epstein at his lavish properties. One day after that trove was unsealed, Epstein was found hanging in his Manhattan prison cell, dead from an apparent suicide after being charged with sex trafficking and imprisoned some weeks previously.

Maxwell was arrested and charged with procuring minors for sexual abuse earlier this month, after keeping a low profile in the period following Epstein’s death. She has pleaded not guilty to six criminal counts and remains in custody without bail, after prosecutors had labeled her an “extreme” flight risk.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 5 Comments

New ceasefire reached in Donbass, but for how long?

By Uriel Araujo | July 31, 2020

The war in Donbass (part of a broader Russo-Ukrainian conflict) is often called the “forgotten war” in Europe. It has killed over 13,000 people since 2014. The conflict has been described as “frozen” since Minsk II agreement (February 2015). Such did not put an end to war itself – periodic shelling and fighting along the line of contacts never stopped – but since then, the number of casualties decreased and no further territorial changes occurred.

There have been other ceasefires: 2017, for example, was a year of intense fighting and quite a few failed ceasefires. In 2019, an agreement (often described as the “Steinmeier formula” after its German proposer) was signed between the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, and both “rebel republics”: the Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR). It came of course after intense negotiation and it basically proposes that free election be held in the LPR and DPR territories – observed and verified by OSCE officials. Subsequently, these territories could be reintegrated into Ukraine with special “autonomous” status. Some Ukrainian and rebel troops did withdraw after this agreement.

Unfortunately the Coronavirus pandemic has caused the Donbass situation to go backward. However, on Sunday, a new ceasefire was decided by the Minsk Trilateral contact group (backed by Putin and Zelenskiy), starting on Monday and that has generated some hope. However, two breaches have already been claimed by the Ukraine military on Monday, minutes after midnight, involving grenades and machine guns (no casualties were reported). Besides, other issues still linger such as the situation of war prisoners.

It is indeed too early to speculate on what will be the outcome of it. For many Donbass residents, being once again a part of Ukraine became unthinkable. The Ukrainian government’s offensives did take a large toll on civilians in Donbass. Hospital, schools, the local energy company’s office and many other buildings in the city of Horlivka (Donetsk), for example, were destroyed or damaged by shelling (in 2014). Many struggled without electric power and water cut off. Such wounds take some time to heal. Furthermore, on February (2019), Ukrainian legislators repealed a bill which would have made it possible for people living in both rebel republics to get their pensions without needing to take difficult trips outside of the conflict zone and then back home.

On the other hand, experts have noted that after the hottest phase of the war, so far there have not been large-scale civilian atrocities. It could indicate neither side has an interest in further fomenting “ethnic” divisions for political gain: there have not been mass rapes, mutilations or other such type of civil war tactics.

According to a key Luhansk official, the main challenges of Donbass now are not of a humanitarian nature but rather mostly political. There is no hunger, but there are indeed economical problems, most of which would be at least ameliorated if it were not for the lack of recognition from the international community. Both rebel republics are currently recognised only by each other and by South Ossetia, which in its turn, is itself a partially-recognised state.

This being so, neither of the two republics have embassies abroad. However, some representation bureaus have been opened, in Russia, Italy, France and a few other European nations. Last year, the LNR opened its first bureau outside of Europe: a “Cultural Representation Office” in Congo. This was a “foreign policy” win for the LNR, which is increasing dialogue with Congo and seeking other potential interlocutors.

It is hard to tell whether either of the two republics would be “viable” (both are heavily dependent on Russia as of now) without gaining international recognition. And the Russian Federation in its turn shows no intent of integrating Donbass into its territory – Donbass is not Crimea.

Professor Jesse Driscoll at the School of Global Policy and Strategy at UC San Diego sees the conflict as a civil war and not merely as a proxy war between Russia and Ukraine. In his view, describing it as a “civil war” – thus emphasizing internal Ukrainian political problems – should not be confused with a “capitulation to Russia” of some sort. It is rather about recognizing some of the valid concerns of the Russian-speaking and pro-Russian Ukrainian population (this region after all has historical and cultural ties to Russia).

To further complicate things, one should not think of the Donbass war as an ethnic conflict plain and simple. Ukraine is of course a strongly bilingual society (both Russian and Ukrainian, with a high degree of intermarriage). Furthermore, many people may declare themselves ethnically as either Russian or Ukrainian, depending on context. In fact, many self-declared “ethnic Ukrainians” are Donbass separatists (“pro-Russian”) while there were and are “ethnic Russians” fighting on the Ukrainian side – on the Azov battalion, even. The truth is that one’s political stance is often a better predictor – regarding one’s attitude towards the conflict – than language or ethnicity. And the main dividing issue was and is of course Maidan. It is about 2 possible Ukraines: one is an European nation, closer the West and the US. The other is a natural ally of Russia and part of the “Russian world” (culturally) and is also proud of its Soviet heritage.

These are the two world-views currently clashing in Ukraine. Meanwhile, the plight of the civilian population of Donbass remains.

Uriel Araujo is a researcher with a focus on international and ethnic conflicts.

July 31, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

The Incident at Benghazi

Tales of the American Empire | July 30, 2020

Chris Stevens was an ambitious US State Department employee who volunteered to participate in the overthrow of the Libyan government in 2011. He covertly arrived in Libya in early 2011 aboard a Greek cargo ship with CIA personnel and set up operations in Benghazi to coordinate illegal shipments of weaponry into Libya and organized attacks on the Libyan army. After Africa’s most prosperous nation was in ruins, Stevens became the US Ambassador to Libya in Tripoli and was given a new mission of shipping tons of arms to Syria to destroy that nation. He traveled to Benghazi in September 2012 to check on progress and was attacked. Stevens was captured, beaten, and killed. The Obama administration hid these facts and proclaimed Chris Stevens an American hero who had traveled to Benghazi to mediate peace among warring factions when he was killed by terrorists.

_______________________________

“Slain Ambassador Chris Stevens Slipped Into Libya on a Cargo Ship During Revolution”; Amy Bingham; ABC News; September 12, 2012; https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/…

Related Tale: The Destruction of Libya in 2011; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5Lh4…

“Operation Timber Sycamore”; the CIA’s semi-secret shipments of tons of weapons to terrorists in Syria; https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timber_…

“CIA Gun—running, Qatar-Libya-Syria”; Phil Greaves; Global Research ; August 9, 2013; https://www.globalresearch.ca/cia-gun…

“The Arming of Benghazi”; Fox News; June 27, 2015; https://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/…

Video report: Part I https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/43285…

Part II https://video.foxbusiness.com/v/43284…

“Arms for Libya 2.0”; Wikispooks; https://wikispooks.com/wiki/Arms_for_…

”Obama DOJ drops charges against alleged broker of Libyan weapons”; Ken Vogel; Politico ; October 5, 2016; https://www.politico.com/story/2016/1…

“Hillary’s Secret War”; Andrew Napolitano; July 2, 2015; Antiwar.com ; http://original.antiwar.com/andrew-p-…

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Deception, Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | 1 Comment

Poll shows minimal support for Labour Party’s call to ‘urgently review’ RT’s media license

‘Prefer to use my own judgement’

RT | July 30, 2020

A letter from Labour’s Shadow Culture Secretary Jo Stevens to communications regulator Ofcom demands that RT’s media license be reviewed, but a poll shows the party itself doesn’t want censorship, but to make their own decisions.

The poll, conducted by Labour Grassroots, finds only 26 percent of Labour supporters feel the party should pursue having the media outlet’s license reviewed by a third party.

While another 19 percent did not answer either way, 55 percent of the 620 respondents said no.

And though those 55 percent believe RT is biased, many commented that the bias makes them no different from other media outlets and there is still value in the coverage.

“I watch for the interviews. They are very balanced and fair. The interviewers ask a question, allow a full answer and then ask follow up questions. Very good and far better than the equivalent on the BBC,” one respondent said.

“I am sure that RT is careful not to cause too many ripples with the Russian government. But that also applies to the BBC and the British government,” added another.

Yet another said as a “big boy,” he preferred to make the decision about where he gets his news, rather than the government.

“I know RT is effectively state run. However, as a big boy I prefer to use my own judgement rather than having a media outlet censored.”

Of those polled, 68 percent also believe RT provides useful media coverage.

In Stevens’ letter to Ofcom, it was claimed that RT has dangerous “political influence.” The charge was based on a report by the Intelligence and Security Committee, which called out social media companies in the UK for “failing to play their part” in suppressing “disinformation” from RT.

The report claimed RT helped influence UK politics in favor of Russia, like interfering with the Brexit vote, but failed to give any examples.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , | 1 Comment

Why the US really accuses Russia & China of weaponizing space

By Finian Cunningham | RT | July 30, 2020

Washington has made startling accusations that Russia & China “have already turned space into a war-fighting domain,” but what’s really going on is the US is attempting to distract from its own controversial space militarization.

There is also a sequence of events reflecting Washington’s increasingly hysterical hostility towards Russia and China in which all events are perceived through an obsessive American lens of “hybrid warfare.”

An additional factor is the intensified US demand to include China in arms control talks with Russia, which resumed this week.

The claim made against Russia and China by Christophe Ford, a State Department arms control envoy, comes against the backdrop of President Trump announcing the establishment of a new Space Force Command earlier this year. That move by the Trump administration flies in the face of decades-long advocacy at the United Nations by Russia and China to keep weapons out of space.

The 1967 UN Outer Space Treaty forbids weaponization in the outer atmosphere. Thus, America’s renewed efforts through its Space Force Command are arguably illegal. Allegations from Washington that Moscow and Beijing have turned space into a war-fighting domain appear to turn reality on its head.

Karl Grossman, a professor at the State University of New York who has written extensively on the subject, says that Russia and China have consistently advocated for the expansion of the existing UN treaty to ban not only the placement of weapons of mass destruction but also for a prohibition on any weaponization in outer space.

“The United States has repeatedly voted against this effort, essentially casting a veto at the UN,” Grossman said.

It would seem therefore that America’s claims are motivated by a need to obscure its own controversial militarization of the “final frontier.”

On July 15, the US and Britain accused Russia of testing an anti-satellite weapon in space. Moscow denied this, saying it was carrying out an in-orbit satellite “inspection” by another one of its own satellites. The US Space Force Command acknowledges it was a “non-destructive event” but nevertheless alleged it was an attempt by Russia to deploy a “bullet” in space.

“Inspection of satellites” could of course be a euphemism for gaining the capacity to spy on other nations’ space vehicles. The US is reportedly involved in developing the same kind of surveillance activity against foreign satellites. But for the Americans to accuse Russia of testing a space-based “anti-satellite weapon” seems to be a provocative stretch.

Notably, the report of the alleged Russian weapon test was followed immediately by sonorous statements hailing the establishment last year of the US Space Force “to deter aggression and defend the nation.”

Grossman says: “The new US Space Force is, I’d say desperately, trying to justify itself and thus its announcement that Russia conducted an anti-satellite weapons test needs to be considered in this context.”

But there is more to the sequence of events. Last week, on July 23, China launched its first rover to explore Mars. If the mission succeeds in landing on the Red Planet in seven months, it will be seen as a breakthrough achievement by China, putting the country on par with the US in space exploration. The Chinese launch came a week before NASA blasted off its new rover to Mars which is due to reach the planet in February around the same time as China’s.

It seems significant that Christophe Ford, the US arms control envoy, first made his announcement accusing Russia and China of weaponizing space the day after China’s historic Mars mission launch. Given the closely overlapping engineering shared by space rocketry and ballistic missiles, it could, therefore, be loosely argued that a Mars mission by China has military dimensions. (As would all American missions, if using the same tenuous reasoning.)

However, in the present context of rampant accusations against Russia and China of waging “hybrid war,” including everything from “meddling in elections to subvert US democracy” to “unleashing a virus pandemic to destroy American capitalism,” it is not hard to see how in Washington’s mindset events in space could be construed as yet more hybrid warfare. American paranoia is simply going extraterrestrial.

Another important factor in the sequence is the resumption of arms control talks this week in Vienna between the US and Russia. These negotiations are aimed at extending the New START accord limiting strategic weapons. Washington is pushing the Russian side to lever China into joining a new trilateral arms control agreement. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo admitted in a recent keynote speech that Washington was seeking Russia’s help in curbing China’s nuclear arsenal. Moscow has indicated that such a trilateral accord with China, considering its relatively smaller arsenal, is not relevant at this stage in bilateral negotiations between the US and Russia over New START.

The US warned it would bring up the issue of Russia’s alleged anti-satellite weapon at the arms control talks this week in Vienna.

It seems the US is using claims about space weaponization not only to distract from its own illicit program, but also to undermine Russia in arms talks as a way to pressure Moscow into accommodating Washington’s overbearing demands regarding China.

That does not augur well for a successful arms control agreement or for global security. A foreboding case, so to speak, of ‘watch this space’.

Finian Cunningham is an award-winning journalist. For over 25 years, he worked as a sub-editor and writer for The Mirror, Irish Times, Irish Independent and Britain’s Independent, among others.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

Neither Trump Nor Biden Really Matter to China or Russia

By Finian Cunningham | Strategic Culture Foundation | July 30, 2020

Well, according to the Trump campaign, Democrat rival Joe Biden is the candidate whom Chinese leaders are rooting for to win the presidential election in November. “Beijing Biden” or “Sleepy Joe” would be a gift to China, so it goes.

In turn, trying to out-hawk the Republican incumbent, the Biden campaign paints Trump as being “soft” on China and having been “played” by Chinese counterparts over trade, the corona pandemic and allegations about human rights.

Biden, the former vice president in the previous Obama administrations, has vowed to impose more sanctions on China over allegations of rights violations. He claims to be the one who will “stand up” to Beijing if he is elected to the White House in three months’ time.

Last week, Biden declared he was “giving notice to the Kremlin and others [China]” that if elected to the presidency he would impose “substantial and lasting costs” on those who allegedly interfere in U.S. politics. That’s war talk based on worthless intel propaganda.

Trump meanwhile asserts that no-one is tougher than him when it comes to dealing with China (and Russia for that matter).

Given the Trump administration’s reckless policy of ramping up hostility towards China in recent months, that begs the question: how could a future Biden administration begin to be even more aggressive – short of going to war?

Relations between Washington and Beijing have plummeted to their worst levels since the historic detente initiated by President Richard Nixon in the early 1970s. The precipitous downward spiral has occurred under President Trump’s watch. So, how exactly could a prospective President Biden make the relationship more adversarial?

The truth is both Trump and Biden are equally vulnerable to domestic partisan criticism about their respective dealings with China. The belated high-handed approach that both are trying to project is pockmarked with risible hypocrisy.

The Trump campaign scores a valid point when it recalls how former Vice President Biden smooched and feted Chinese leaders with economic opportunities in the American economy.

Likewise, Trump stands accused of lavishing praise on Chinese President Xi Jinping while ignoring the impending coronavirus pandemic because Trump’s top priority was getting a trade deal with China.

The fact that both American politicians have U-turned with regard to China in such nasty terms must leave the authorities in Beijing with a deep sense of distrust in either of the would-be presidents.

Biden at one time waxed lyrical about his close relationship with Xi, but as his bid for the presidency heated up, Biden stuck the proverbial knife in the Chinese leader calling him a “thug”.

For his part, Trump previously referred to Xi as a “dear friend” while dining him with “beautiful chocolate cake” at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, but his administration has since slammed the Chinese leader as “authoritarian”. Trump’s racist slurs over the pandemic being “Kung Flu” and “Chinese plague” must give President Xi pause for disgust with the falseness.

At the end of day, can either of these presidential candidates be trusted to pursue principled U.S.-China relations going forward? The toxic anti-China campaigning by both indicates a level of puerile treachery which foreshadows no possible return to any kind of normalcy.

One distinction perhaps between Trump and Biden is the latter is promising to repair relations with Western allies to form a united front against China. To that end, a hawkish confrontational policy under Biden may have more impact on U.S.-China relations than under Trump. Trump has managed to alienate European allies with his broadsides over trade tariffs and NATO spending commitments. Although Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has recently urged “an alliance of democracies” to confront China, that rallying call is likely to fall on deaf ears with European allies irked by Trump’s brash style. Biden on the other hand could bring a more unified Western policy of hostility towards Beijing (and Moscow) by affecting a more appeasing attitude towards Europe. In that way, Biden would be more preferred by the Pentagon and foreign policy establishment than Trump, just as Hillary Clinton was in 2016.

However, it is doubtful that Beijing is paying too much attention to what either candidate is saying or posturing at. If both of them can flip so much from talking softly to shouting loud anti-China profanities then their individual characters may be deemed malleable and unscrupulous. Both have shown a shameless streak in stoking anti-China bashing for electioneering gain. Trump pulled that trick last time out in 2016 when he railed against China for “raping America” only for him to discover “deep friendship” with Xi following that election. Now he has reverted to hostility out of self-serving calculation to whip up anti-China sentiment among voters. And Biden is apt to do the very same.

Forget about such fickle personalities when it comes to reading U.S. policy towards China. Beijing will be looking at the longer trajectory of how U.S. policy turned towards a more militarized approach with the “Pivot to Asia” under the Obama-Biden administration in 2011. Indicating how Deep State continuity transcends Democrat or Republican occupants of the White House, the next major indicator was in the Pentagon planning documents of 2017 and 2018 under Trump which labelled China and Russia as “great power rivals”. The American “ship of state”, it may be concluded, is therefore set on a collision course with both Beijing and Moscow in terms of ramping up a confrontational agenda. Who sits in the White House scarcely matters.

For Trump and Biden to trade barbs about which one is “softer” on China or Russia is irrelevant in the bigger picture of U.S. imperialist ambitions for global dominance. The logic of a waning American empire and the concomitant inherent belligerence to compensate for the perceived loss of U.S. global power are the issues to follow, not whether Trump or Biden clinch the dog-and-pony race to the White House.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Aletho News | , | 1 Comment

Israeli Colonists Steal Palestinian Water Tanks And Tents In Northern Plains

IMEMC News | July 30, 2020

A group of fanatic Israeli colonists, illegally squatting on stolen Palestinian lands, invaded Wednesday Khirbat Samra Bedouin community, in the West Bank’s N Plains, before stealing water tanks, tents, and equipment.

Mo’taz Bisharat, a Palestinian Authority official in charge of the Jordan Valley file, stated that the colonists stole sheds, tents, water tanks, and kitchenware from the families in the village, and fled the area.

Bisharat added that the colonists stole three water tanks, each with the capacity of 1.5 cubic meters, and kitchenware, owned by five Palestinian Bedouin families.

He added that the colonists also stole five tons of wheat and fodder and four tents used by the families.

The official stated that, while such assaults are frequent, usually targeting livestock, lands, and shepherds, the latest assault is a serious violation and escalation as it is targeting the families in their own dwellings, their tents where they reside.

July 30, 2020 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , , | 2 Comments